Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Quest for Sunday Roast and a Beer

Pork is bad...m'kay:
So the UAE is a strictly Islamic country right? But everything is available for a price if one is to ask the right people... Take Pork for instance. Strictly banned (Haram) under Muslim law but walk into any Spinneys or Waitrose (UK supermarkets) in Dubai, ask for the "Pork Room" and you can go into a separate room stocking all pork products.
Now this Pork Room often has some strange items in it (Pop Tarts and Marshmallows spring to mind..) but the argument is that some pork bypass products are used in their production. Marshmallows? Really? Think I preferred not knowing that kind of info.

**** Disclaimer****
In the event that you are the police or Immigration, the below story is a work of fiction. Okay... carry on.

The Barracuda Run:
So just like Pork can be obtained in this land of contradictions, so can alcohol. I think I have mentioned here before how one must get a license, involving getting a No Objection letter from the employer, permission from husband etc etc...

Well let's just say (hypothetically of course) you haven't gotten around to getting your license yet. There exists a little place in the middle of the freaking desert(!!!) called The Barracuda. One drives for an hour and a half out of Dubai through the desert on a road called E311. "When you see a big rusted looking warehouse and a Russian IL76aircraft smashed into the side of the road you have found it." (These were the exact directions I was given!)

The outside looks like the aforementioned shed. Then pass the stacked shopping trolleys at the entrance and one could be mistaken for thinking they were at a Liquor Barn anywhere in Australia.

It was massive!!

And the prices?? Oh.My.God!

I bought (with cash of course... you don't want to use a UAE credit card here trust me) for under $90 AUD:
1. 1 litre of Absolut Vodka Mango
2. 700ml Johnny Walker Red Scotch
3. Oyster Bay Sauv Blanc
4. some other French red
5. carton of Heineken
6. carton of Budweiser

So far so good... now to get it back into Dubai without getting arrested. This involved us wrapping the alcohol in towels and hiding in the wheel hold (empty) of my.. I mean this fictitious person's SUV.

A few photos:

The road to the Barra:

The inside of the 'warehouse' taken sneakily with iPhone:

A few choice items for sale:

In addition the famous Barracuda Run (which is what expat commonly call their trip out there), there is also the Barracuda Bandit. This is scary if you believe everything you read on the internet ;)

In order to get from Umm al-Quwain (several Emirates over) back to Dubai, one must pass through Sharjah. Sharjah is like the Saudi of the UAE: they are still living in the past (actually it's still 1434 there.  Yes, I'm serious) and they tolerate very little. ie no alcohol. The E311 passes through Sharjah for about 4km or so. Many people returning from a Barracuda Run have fallen victim to a scammer nicknamed the Barracuda Bandit. Basically these are two local men driving a very expensive and high powered 7 Series BMW (white in colour) that gets tipped off from staff at the Barra as to how is carrying what. They tailgate the car down the E311 once it enters Sharjah and clips them causing a minor accident. Once they pull over, the local man will offer to not call the police but ask that the driver escort him to the ATM and give him 10,000AED (about $3000). Most will do this as the punishment for carrying alcohol in Sharjah is prison and deportation.

The way around this is to call the Bandits bluff (especially if there is no alcohol visible) or avoid Sharjah completely by exiting E311 and going via another road. Another theory is to tip the guy that carries your alcohol to the car well (as it is suspected that he is the one on cahoots with the Bandit)

This of course could well be Dubai Urban Legend as everyone knows 'someones friend' that was scammed, but no one knows someone directly themselves. So who knows!

But for us on this particular adventure, all is well that ends well!

We made it home, breathed a sigh of relief and toasted each other as official Dubai Expats and possible criminals. We enjoyed a fabulous pork roast the other night complete with crackling and gravy.

It was delicious!

1 comment:

  1. Holy crap! What does a girl have to do to get a drink!!! The warehouse looks like any nice bottle-O, how can they not get into trouble!!